In January 2020, I was honoured to take up my role as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet.
I have been a great admirer of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s heritage and of what Sir David Bintley has done to establish it as one of the country’s leading classical ballet companies, following on from the wonderful foundations laid down by Sir Peter Wright.
New works, new commissions, international partnerships and collaborations were on the agenda during my first year as Director as the Company celebrated the 30th anniversary of its move from Sadler’s Wells to Birmingham. However, a lot of these plans were, like so many in the sector, put on hold by the Coronavirus pandemic. This did not deter us from remaining creative. In a short 12-months we developed the only large-scale ballet commissioned during the pandemic (Will Tuckett’s Lazuli Sky) which, in a new collaboration with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Sadler’s Wells was performed before socially-distanced audiences in London and Birmingham alongside two works new to the Company, Valery Panov’s Liebestod and Vicente Nebrada’s Our Waltzes.
We also took this opportunity to take a brave new step into digital broadcast, streaming this triple bill as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s first ever pay-per-view digital event. Such was the success of the Lazuli Sky film, that following the second lockdown and cancellation of Nutcracker performances at Birmingham Hippodrome and the Royal Albert Hall, we embraced new digital capabilities and streamed Nutcracker at the Repa reduced and modified version of this great production, which went on to sell over 10,000 tickets online.
Throughout this time, the brilliant team at Birmingham Royal Ballet have continued to drive, develop and support initiatives such as Freefall, Dance Track and First Steps connects directly with a desire to ensure the future, on and off stage, is more reflective of our experience and society today and brings new audiences to ballet by being accessible, by nurturing talent and by creating opportunities to experience and be inspired by this beautiful artform, in many different ways
As we start to bring ballet back, I intend to build on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s classical traditions whilst expanding its repertoire. I want to reach out to new and more diverse audiences, bring major new works to the stage, whilst further embracing digital advances. I wish to create exciting new partnerships and collaborations with international talent, and forge a new direction for this wonderful company which is surprising and unpredictable and truly defines what it is to be a world leading classical ballet company in the 21st century.
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